CMW March 14: Hey Rosetta! at the Indies, Royal York Hotel

Posted on by guestwriter in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 3 Comments

Hey Rosetta!

Toronto – If you’ve never heard of Hey Rosetta!, I strongly suggest you head over to their website or myspace page to listen to some of their music. I don’t just rant and rave about them because they hail from the Mudderland (also known as Newfoundland, which is also known as the best place in the world), but that they play a kind of rock that hasn’t made me this excited in a long time. Their music is a contradiction between simple and complex. Their songs take you on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, manipulating you with intense crescendos and decrescendos of instrument and voice.

I caught them for the second time opening the Indie Awards at the Royal York Hotel for the last night of Canadian Music Week—a fitting slot for a band which has been causing quite a stir on the Indie front since their first album release Plan Your Escape. Most recently, this quiet and humble six piece hailing from St. Johns, Newfoundland, swept three awards at the East Coast Music Awards—garnering big prizes for Group Recording, Recording of the Year and Alternative Recording for their second release Into Your Lungs, produced by Hawksley Workman.

They kicked off, and much to the delight of the crowd, their three song set with I’ve Been Asleep for a Long, Long Time, they looked as comfortable on a big stage as you might imagine them in a small dark pub on George St. The rhythmic beat of the chords was complimented with violin, and the voice of Tim Baker, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter, was overpowering. Tim Baker and company performed A Thousand Suns, engaging the audience through an enthusiastic chorus of hand clapping to finish the song off.

If there was any disappointment with their performance, it wasn’t being able to hear their acoustic music. The performance was to say the least a tease, making you beg for a longer set. Thankfully Hey Rosetta! will be playing at Lee’s Palace on April 24, tickets are $10.

5 freaking cod tongues out of 5!


CMW March 12: Sirius Satellite Showcase, El Mocambo

Posted on by guestwriter in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 3 Comments

Toronto – Canadian Music week is in full swing in the heart of the city this weekend. Although sparse in the early part of the evening, the Elmo soon filled up on Thursday night for a French Canadian extravaganza hosted by Sirius Satellite Radio.

Duchess Says

Duchess Says

We arrived in the midst of the cacophony of Duchess Says, where singer Annie-Claude was serenading the crowd with her unique brand of intense scream-singing metal and dance punk. Thankfully the set was a mix of anger metal and dance-punk, which was a much more head-boppably well received. Extra points for her stage presence, but this girl is one crazy version of Peaches. Instead of hurling obscenities, she spits a melange of beer and gum.

This girl is one crazy version of Peaches. Instead of hurling osbcenities, she spits a melange of beer and gum.

Extra points for her over-the-top stage presence. At one point we thought there was some crazy drunk in the midst of the crowd causing a ruckus by hurling beer with abandon. We were expecting the bouncers to come in and deal, but then realized it was little wrath-of-Annie herself; dancing and rolling on the floor, grabbing innocent bystanders and showering them with dance punk and beer. Well done. There were no chewing-gum-hair casualties during the making of this set.

Radio Radio

Radio Radio

Next up was Radio Radio—an electronic rapping foursome from New Brunswick, recently coming of a performance at the East Coast Music Awards. This Acadian troupe sang in Chiac, a uniquely Canadian dialect of English and French—a little something we’d like to call Franglais. Although full of energy, we found the whole enchilada to be frat-boyish. One of the pledglings, Timo, sported a handlebar moustache and regaled us with stories in French about birthday parties at strip clubs. This Little man was not unlike a small horny Chihuahua that’s humping your leg that you just can’t shake off. The thought occurred to us even before he fulfilled prophecy by humping the stage. Timo, small doses only please.

We Are Wolves

We Are Wolves

From hip-hop, we moved to the music of Montreal based We Are Wolves. This band appeared on the very same stage last summer for NXNE where they were plagued with technical difficulties that caused several false starts. Thankfully this time around the absence of sound issues allow them to bring their A-game.

It was minimalist electron-rock at its best. Judging from their albums, you’d never guess that this complete sound was emanating from a three-piece. They keep it real with a simple setup: a sparse drum-set with a nary a stool to sit on, a lone guitarist/bassist, and keys. The band’s happier mood definitely made for a better performance. However, not much else seemed to be different between this and their NXNE showcase. There hasn’t been much new material since then, but that didn’t detract from a solid set.

It was minimalist Electron-rock at its best.



Closing out the night was French Indie starlings Malajube. This band has garnered a lot of attention since their debut album, Trompe-L’oeil. There was a musical lyricism that was missing from the night until the opening of this set. Their sound was reminiscent of a blend of Quebecois Trucker meets 80’s progrock reborn into these little indie adorables.

Big thumbs up on the grandiose sound, however thumbs down on the epileptic light-show. It was out of place for this intimate venue. Their sound and musicianship was all that was needed to attract the attention of the media and music aficionados looking for the next up and coming Canadian darlings.

Overall the showcase was strong, diverse, and well-assembled.

Unapologetically French.

Duchess Says: 3.5/5

Radio Radio: 3/5

We Are Wolves: 4/5

Malajube: 4.25/5

(Covered by Patricia and Mark)

Concert Review: Sharon Jones, October 29th, Kool Haus

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 3 Comments

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Toronto – Last Wednesday brought Toronto a veritable soul queen in Sharon Jones. For those of you who are new to Sharon Jones, she is spear-heading a throwback to good old fashioned funk and R&B. Sharon was backed by her band the Dap-Kings, the house band from her label: Daptone Records. Seeing them live is the closest I can imagine to being in Harlem during the height of soul and funk in the 70’s.

The Dap-Kings are tight. Most notable for me was watching the bassist Bosco Mann get to work. He held everything down like nobody’s business and was clearly leading the charge. It didn’t surprise me to discover later that he is the mastermind behind large swathes of Sharon’s repertoire. In a world of synthesized music (much of which I enjoy), I must say that there’s something really clean and refreshing about listening to an old-school funk band. No crazy digitized effects, just straight up bare-bones amplification for the guitars, bass, drums, sweet brass, and of course the very impressive pipes of Mrs Jones.

But what review is complete without a comment about the venue? The answer of course is many. But I’ll talk about the Kool Haus anyway. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of the Kool Haus/Government, I do have a juicy little tidbit for all you keen concert going types. Yes, it’s hard to get to, and yes it’s a bit out of the way. Yes, you have to pay for parking, but there is parking on the street that’s free. Yes, those spots evaporate quickly. BUT, if you drive one street west and the drive north of the highway, there is a much higher chance you’ll find parking on the street and, it’s still only a 5 minute walk from the venue. Most people never think to park north of the Gardiner.

I do realize that broadcasting this little tip means that I’ll be less likely to park there myself next time. So don’t ever say I don’t do stuff for you people.

Sharon Jones 4/5

Concert Review: Brazilian Girls, Oct 4, Diesel Playhouse, Toronto

Posted on by Brian in Concerts | 1 Comment

Brazilian Girls

Brazilian Girls seem to be a hard act to really get a handle on.

The eclectic quartet have a seemingly very simple formula: drums, keys, bass, a sultry female vocalist and a reputation for enthusiastic live shows featuring a lot of audience participation. Complicating things slightly are lyrics in no less than five different languages,a departed bassist (founding member Jesse Murphy is reportedly “on hiatus,” so they’re breaking in a new guy), and a whirlwind touring and recording schedule that seems to put them in every major festival lineup and has seen the band release three albums in four years.

As if that weren’t enough, complicating things further on this night is the fact that the venue, Diesel Playhouse, is, well, a playhouse, with little room for moving to the band’s more danceable tracks; that after a solid self-titled debut that was roundly acclaimed as one of the best albums of 2005, the band’s last two efforts, 2006’s Talk to La Bomb and the recently released New York City, are more than a bit scattered (though NYC is an improvement); and that singer Sabina Sciubba is about five months pregnant.

I’d never seen Brazilian Girls before, but based on their reputation for wild, fantastical live shows and being a fan (mostly) of their albums, my expectations were high. And man, was I ever disappointed.

The whole show just seemed off. Even the opening DJ, whose statement “I’ve never performed in front of this many people sitting and staring at me” essentially summed up my thoughts on having a dance DJ perform in such a static environment with next to no space for dancing, and that’s all I’m going to say about his set, seemed to sense it.

Opening with “L’interprete,” the slowest track off the new album, and “Jique,” the opener off Talk to La Bomb, Brazilian Girls just never seemed to bring the kind of energy I’d expected. Nominally an album release party for NYC, out of the seven or so tracks the band played from that release only “Berlin,” “St. Petersburg,” and “Good Time” were really notable. As the best track off the new album, a poppy, fun tune with a chorus (“We just want to have a good time, tonight/we just want to have a good time all the time”) ripe for an audience sing-along, “Good Time” was surprisingly lifeless, thought not nearly as lifeless as the band’s rendition of the similarly fun “Don’t Stop” from their first album, which was almost unrecognizable compared to the recorded version. The rest of the set was inexplicably devoted mostly to tracks from Talk to La Bomb, which, as an album, sometimes sounds like a hastily written, poorly thought out mistake. The band mostly ignored their debut, save for a decent version of “Cornerstore,” and “Pussy,” the last song of the night and a crowd-pleaser, with it’s chorus of “pussy, pussy, pussy, marijuana,” which many members of the crowd’s front row sang as Sciubba shared her microphone.

As much fun as Sciubba was as she moved about the small stage trying to whip the crowd of several hundred seated fans into a frenzy, the rest of the band was completely stationary and looked kind of uninterested in the whole ordeal. It seems a bit unfair to ask a woman who’s five months pregnant to create all the on stage energy, and Sciubba, in a skintight beige bodysuit covered by what looked like a living room curtain that drew a lot of attention to her pregnant belly, could only do so much. At their best, Sciubba and Brazilian Girls’ recorded sound is fun, sexy, upbeat and introspective, the vocals alternately sultry and playfully teasing. Unfortunately, for any number of possible reasons, like the venue, the setlist, Sciubba’s physical limitations (really, given the pregnancy, it’s amazing she can stand for as long as she did), none of that came through on this night.